Alan Jones, the 1980 Formula 1 Champion, and the last Australian to win the Title delivered a damning verdict on compatriot Daniel Ricciardo’s chances of racing in top flight again.
Daniel Ricciardo heads into this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne as a reserve Red Bull driver, rather than a full time F1 driver having lost his seat at McLaren at the end of the 2022 season.
While the Honey Badger is adamant, his year on the sidelines is part of his plan to secure a full-time race seat in 2024, his countryman Alan Jones begs to differ and believes the 33-year-old’s days in F1 are over, and even insists that unless something outlandish happens at Red Bull, even a substitute race appearance is far fetched.
Speaking to The Daily Mail, Jones said: “I don’t think he will get a drive at Red Bull unless something happens to the two current drivers, I can’t see him doing a Grand Prix.
“I doubt [he will be on the grid in 2024],” the 76-year-old added. “At the end of the day there is probably no reason why Red Bull won’t re-sign Perez and obviously Verstappen [is locked in] and I can’t see anybody at Ferrari resigning or going away, so I just can’t see where he can go.
“Obviously everybody likes to go out on a high note and it’s just unfortunate that for whatever reason, and I don’t even think he knows himself, why his performance dropped off.
“As I said before, I just can’t see him getting back into Formula One,” the winner of 12 grands prix insisted.
Ricciardo lost focus on what mattered
As for the reasons behind the downfall of one of F1’s most exciting talents of late; Jones said: “Really, in my own opinion, I think he concentrated and spent a bit too much time for his activities out of the cockpit rather than in it. That’s my opinion.”
With Ricciardo away from F1, Oscar Piastri, the rookie driver that replaced him at McLaren, is now the only driver flying the Australian flag in the sport, and Jones thinks highly of the young Aussie.
“I think he can go on to be world champion,” he said of Piastri, “Every now and again someone comes along that has got an enormous amount of talent and I reckon he is one of those sorts of people.
“Everything he has ever put his bum in, he has won and there are not too many people that can say that,” the veteran of 116 grands prix pointed out.
“He has certainly got the ability to go on and be a world champion,” Jones concluded.
With Ricciardo unable to become the third Australian F1 World Champion after Jack Barabham (1959, 1960, 1966) and Jones (1980), will Piastri be able to do so?